Types of Yoga Poses

Yoga Poses | Styles & Benefits


Yoga Poses

If you’re new to yoga, it’s likely that you’ve found yourself somewhat overwhelmed by the sheer number of yoga poses that can come at you during a yoga class.It also doesn’t take long to realize that not every pose will be attainable during your practice. Some poses are amazingly simple and others are quite the challenge. Every student must decide through experimentation which poses are best suited for their practice and goals.Whether you love a restorative practice or power flows, it’s essential and helpful to understand the basic classification of poses and their benefits.The styles and classifications of postures can be vast with many wonderful physical, mental and emotional benefits. Classifications can include poses which are considered hip openers, backbends, inversions, forward folds, and postures for core strength.


Hip Openers

Most yoga students either love or hate hip openers, sometimes they may even love and hate the poses within the same class. Hip opener yoga poses have become one of the most popular and requested postures according to many instructors.Often the process of getting into a hip opener is quite a challenge and full of frustration, but usually you’re rewarded in the end.So why are hip openers so beneficial?Hip openers are beneficial for many reasons, over 20 muscles surround the hips and it’s critical to keep them loose and open for activities. When our hips are tight, even simple tasks can be difficult. Opening the hips can help with easy things like bending over to reach the floor. When we open the hips, it also relieves the load on the spine and can help reduce back pain.If you sit at a desk all day, your hip flexors shorten and tighten, also known as the psoas. Hip openers can release that tension and create space for movement.

Many yogis believe that the hips harbor negative feelings and emotions. Many hip opener postures may in fact help you dump the negative feelings and welcome a better attitude.

It’s worth mentioning that the hips are in the Second Chakra, also called the Savadhisthana. This chakra is associated with desire, sexuality, sexual desires and pleasures. As a result, many suggest that opening the hips can spark your sensual side.

Hip opener poses include Lizard PoseCompass PoseMermaid PoseSeated Wide Legged Forward Fold Pose and many others. As a matter of fact, it can be argued that most all postures help open the hips to some degree.


Backbends & Heart Openers

Backbends are beautiful and a little challenging!You will likely find this category of poses in just about every yoga class. These backbend postures can be very simple or they can present tremendous challenge and difficulty. Fortunately, the simple backbend postures offer just as many benefits as their difficult counterparts.Backbend yoga poses are naturally heart and chest openers, so we will include the latter within this category of poses.Like so many poses, backbends seem to provide a wonderful release of stress and anxiety. Most of us harbor stress within the shoulders, and back. Heart openers or backbends force us to open and stretch the chest, therefore presenting the chance to let go and open the mind.If you look at some of the amazing backbend photos on social media accounts, it becomes quite clear that spine flexibility is critical to practicing backbends. By adding backbends to your practice, you can hopefully improve your spine flexibility! Better spine mobility can help protect you from injury and help you escape back pain.

Are you a goal setter? If yes, then backbends should be a perfect fit for your practice. Deeper backbends require dedication and persistence, the pursuit of these more challenging postures offer the chance to achieve and flourish! As a result, backbends can create a feeling of accomplishment and build great confidence and body awareness!

Good posture is very attractive and poor posture is the opposite! Luckily, backbend and chest openers can do wonders to help our posture! If you find yourself slumping and hunching all day, then the addition of backbends to your life could very well improve your posture and appearance. Heart openers will open your chest, pull back your shoulders and hopefully train you to stand tall and proud!

Backbends can also change your view or perspective! Some backbend postures can almost reach the feeling of being upside down. This feature of backbends creates a totally new way of seeing things around you.

Backbend yoga poses include the following postures just to name a few, Upward Facing Dog PoseBow PoseCamel PoseWild Thing PoseMermaid Pose and Dancer Pose.



Ready to get upside down!Inversions may offer the most challenge but also the most fun of all the pose styles. Much like backbends, inversions range from being very simplistic in practice to offering quite the challenge. Inversions will also require you to overcome your fear of the strange feeling of being inverted with your feet above your head.Benefits of inversions are numerous and consistent no matter the difficulty of the inversion posture. In other words, the benefits of a truly beginner inversion is typically no different from an advanced pose.Perhaps the greatest benefit of inversions is the reversal of blood flow. These poses allow blood to flow and reverse from the lower half of the body and move through body organs and tissues. The brain benefits greatly from fresh blood flow and more oxygen, this allows for better focus and concentration for many people.Inversions also help reduce spinal pain. When we invert our bodies, the spine is given the chance to decompress and lengthen which can greatly aid in pain reduction. Most of us sit and stand all day, and many of us sit and stand with slumped posture. Inversions can vastly assist in counter acting the disadvantages of poor posture. It should be noted that some inversions such as Headstands and Handstands can apply pressure to the neck and spine, these postures should be practiced with caution.

Just like backbends, inversions really change your view! This new perspective can be enlightening and challenging. Things can really look and feel different upside down, this offers a test of overcoming fear and finding balance.

The more difficult inversions also help to build core strength. Core strength is critical in numerous inversions and must be attained to find success with inversions. In yoga, core strength is important within your practice and makes more postures much easier, and inversions can boost your core!

Some inversion poses include Headstand Pose and Shoulder Stand Pose, known as the King and Mother of all Poses. Simpler inversions can include Standing Forward Bend Pose and even Downward Facing Dog Pose can be thought of as an inversion.


Forward Folds

In yoga classes, forward fold postures are often highly anticipated!Forward Folds are known for their ample good feelings and many students see them as an opportunity to take a break and catch a breath. You may have noticed that forward folds are simple inversions, therefore they offer many of the same benefits without a high degree of difficulty. However, folds also provide some unique benefits that are not found with inversions.Unlike inversions, forward fold poses provide a very nice stretch for the backside of the body. This deep stretch includes the back, hips, hamstrings, and calves. Folds can be used to loosen the body, especially the hamstrings and hips to prepare for deeper stretches. The back is also stretched and potentially decompressed during folds, this creation of space in the spine also helps with blood flow.Although most forward folds are simple, the poses can still present a challenge and goal setting opportunity. For example, many students may find it impossible to touch their toes as a new yogi, the practice of folds over time can create the flexibility needed to reach those toes and perhaps reach even further! Keep in mind, patience is key, don’t force yourself deeper into any pose, and that includes simple forward bends.

As mentioned earlier, these folds are sort of mini inversions and therefore provide a reversal of blood flow. This fresh blood circulation and oxygen to the brain can do wonders for your focus and concentration. It’s worth noting that forward folds are commonly practiced in class after backbends to help counteract the compression of backbends.

Some popular forward fold poses include Standing Forward Bend PoseHalf Forward Fold PosePyramid Pose and Puppy Pose.


Core Strength

It usually doesn’t take long as a new yogi to hear your instructor say, “Engage your core” during class. It may also take a little while to understand what the instructor really means by saying “engage your core”. However, sooner or later you begin to realize that core strength means just about everything in yoga.Most yoga postures become much more accessible once you build adequate core strength, but core strength doesn’t just help on your yoga mat. We use our core every day during just about every activity. When we walk, run, sit at our desks or just stand, we are to some degree engaging our core.So where is our core?Many may think of their core as being the abdominal muscles or “abs”. However, our core consists of much more. The core includes the abdominals, lower back muscles, pelvic muscles and even some hip muscles. Our core wraps around our lower torso and acts as a great protector of our spine and back.Strengthening the core through yoga or any other exercise can help reduce back pain, protect the back from injury, help improve your balance and even improve your posture. It’s also no secret that a fit core is attractive and can certainly boost confidence. On the mat, a stronger core will allow you to hold poses longer and achieve much better balance.

Poses that can help strengthen your core include the classic Boat Pose and Plank Pose. Just about all yoga postures will assist your core strength in some fashion.